Water mains in St. Louis City are old, fragile; cause 350 breaks a year

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on October 3, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 9:20 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - News 4 has learned the water mains in City of St. Louis are old and prone to leaking.

Water lines in St. Louis were first put in place in 1835. The line that is currently the cause of a leak on Hampton Avenue was installed 80 years ago.

The average age of a water line is 70 years old. St. Louis averages 350 water main breaks every year, an average of nearly one per day. One city official says it is unclear how long a line will last.

"Typically they last 100 years," said St. Louis Utilities Director Curtis Skouby.

Other causes can be responsible for a break such as shifting soil.

"The weather, the temperature changes in the season, can cause stress and fractures. The water going through the pipe can cause expansion,contraction, and other stresses," Skouby said.

The water main on Hampton has a plastic liner inserted in 2001, but somewhere along the 1,500 feet stretch of the liner a leak was sprung. News 4 has learned that water line may take a year to fix.

While the materials have been new and improved in recent years, sometimes the older pipes are just as resilient.

News 4 has learned the problems St. Louis is experiencing are typical for a city of its size and age. Skouby says there is no easy answer except to try and keep up the breaks.

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